Cisna – Smerek

e8 kaart cisna

Stage no. 78
Date Friday 25 April 2014
Distance stage     19,0 km
Distance acum. 2877,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike B (very good): hills, fields

I left the pension at 06.45 and cross Cisna, which appears to be bigger than I expected, with even some campings and restaurants.

The signs lead across the railway bridge and up the hill through the forrest. There are some incidental sections with yellow mud. The climb up to the top of the Rozki hill is well to do. From here the path follows the ridge, in the beginning between trees and from the top of Worowosoka hill through open terrain.

Nice views above the treeline

Nice views above the treeline

The ridge is not difficult to follow and the ascents and descents are mild for the legs and the feet. The signs are, again, very well situated, although some could use a bit of paint to stand out more. On the top of the hill Okraglik the border with Slovakia is reached. There are many Polish and Slovakian hiking signs, and of course the inevitable landmark.

Final visit to Slovakia

Final visit to Slovakia

I take a short break and enjoy the view to Slovakia. The E8 signs follow the border for a few minutes, together with the white-red-white signs of a Slovakian local trail. After a few minutes the E8 goes left, into Poland again, and the Slovakian signs go straight alaong the border. On the next big hill, the Fereczata, I enjoy the view to the south for the last time (the view to the north is blocked by trees and bushes). The descent is comfortable. After crossing a forrest road the path continues downhill by using another forrest road. In this section there are some big passages with yellow mud, which prevent any easy passing. The path continues through fields and soon the first houses of Smerek are in sight. There I loose the signs but continue downhill to the main road, and here I go left to the village of Smerek.

Along the main road there is a small grocery shop and next to it is an inn, where I stay for the night. It’s an ideal combination for any hiker: cheap place to stay with a large variety of yoghurts, sweets and snacks next door. During the afternoon the rain, that was forecasted for three days now, has finally arrived. It gets dry at 20.00.

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Komancza – Cisna

e8 kaart komancza

Stage no. 77
Date Thursday 24 April 2014
Distance stage     34,0 km
Distance acum. 2858,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike B (very good): hills, fields

After a huge breakfast I start at 06.45 with my stage to Cisna. The weather forecast was not good (rain showers) but the sky is only partly clouded.

The path leaves the road to the village of Duszatyn for a shortcut. Unfortunately there is a lot of yellow clay in this section, which makes me pessimistic for the rest of today’s stage. Just before the village of Preluki the path joins the road again, and follows it to Duszatyn, which appears to contain some 5 houses only. The signs go east, into a narrow valley along the creek. The forrest road is comfortable for some kilometers, and then continues as a hiking path. Some bad sections with mud and clay are covered with boards, which make a safe and clean passage possible. The path circles around the first lake without problems.

Passing the first lake

Passing the first lake

A few minutes later it also goes around  the second lake. Here there are a few creeks that need to be crossed: steep steps to go down to the creek, cross the creek on stones or branches and climb up a few steep steps again. Consequently the path goes up the hill to the peak of the Chryszczata. It is well to do, with only one really steep section at 2/3 of the climb. I take a break at the top, where a picknick bench is situated next to some monument. From here the path goes south (easy) between trees (boring). The pass Zebrak is reached easily, without any descent. Consequently the hill Jaworne needs to be climbed. The ascent is filled with short sections of descending, which makes it quite anoying. South of the top of the Jaworne, before the black signs go left, there is an open spot in the trees on the lefthand side and I can enjoy the view to the northeast for the first time. While being there I see a hurdle of buffaloos, only 100 meters lower on the hill,  grazing peacefully.

Wild buffaloos

Wild buffaloos

After enjoying the sight for a few minutes I continue my way. During the rest of the path to the hill Osina I am busy with going through short sections of ascending and descending. From the Osina onwards the general focus is on descending. The path enters Cisna near a small grocery shop.

My First choice for B&B happens to be situated next door to the grocery shop, so it is the ideal place to stay. There is a big kitchen that I can use to prepare my dinner, and wash my clothes.

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Wisloczek – Komancza

e8 kaart wisloczek

Stage no. 76
Date Wednesday 23 April 2014
Distance stage      37,0 km
Distance acum. 2824,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

When I leave the cabin in the morning it starts to drizzle.

I leave the village by following the main road. Near the curve at the creek I join the E8 signs again and I continue my way to Pulawy Gorne. The road is comfortable and it’s easy to maintain a good pace. It is springtime and flowers and trees are blossoming.

20140423 P1010674 wisloczek

After I have passed the second skilift in the village the signs lead to the right, up the hill to the south. After entering the forrest the hike gets boring; the path goes straight for some kilometers, there is hardly any view due to all the trees on the left and right. The signs along the path are very well placed and also very well maintained. Before arriving on the hill Bukowica the path passes a simple bivouac cabin.

Shelter for the storm

Shelter for the storm

Shortly afterwards the path joins the yellow signs of a local trail and then turns right to the top of the hill, to the antenna tower. The weather is dry, and the visibility is improving but still not great. After descending the hill on the other side the signs lead to the right in a forrest road, again up the hill in to a forrest. In this section the path is not easy: there are several passages where yellow clay make the soil very soft and difficlut to move. After leaving the forrest in the open field the view improves with every step uphill. There are thunderclouds in the southeast ahead of me, but with the wind in my back I feel comfortable that they will not reach me. In the final forrest section of today there are again some parts with yellow clay, but these are not as complex as a few hours ago. After passing the first houses of the village Komancza the path crosses the railroad under a tunnel and goes to the right into the brandnew main road towards the centre of the village. There is a grocery shop on the lefthand side. Where the church is on the lefthand side and the railway station on the righthand side the signs go left, into the village.

I spent the night in an inn that is situated two hundred meters further along the main road. I had to clean my boots after todays clay sections.

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Lubatowa – Wisloczek

e8 kaart lubatowa

Stage no. 75
Date Tuesday 22 April 2014
Distance stage      17,0 km
Distance acum. 2787,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

After travelling for more than 12 hours from home I arrive in Lubatowa for a six day hiking trip. This trip should enable me to finalize the E8 in Poland.

I start at 15.10 in front of the small grocery shop. After passing the church I turn right, up the hill towards Zdroj. The weather is nice with some hazy sunshine and warm temperatures. The views to the west and south are very nice.

Nice view back to Lubatowa

Nice view back to Lubatowa

The road is easy just like the crossing of Iwonicz Zdroj, where many tourists are enjoying the weather and the tulips in the flowerbeds. After leaving the village in the forrest the path goes up the hill. There are some simple shelter-roofs built along the path, which should accomodate some hikers, even during a bivouac. While passing Rymanow Zdroj it seems this is even more touristic that its twin village; there are several outlets selling snacks along the road. The path leaves the road and goes up the hill. After leaving the forrest I pass a picknick spot where many wooden statues are stored. The path continues through the fields, up the hill.

Nice view back to Zdroj

Nice view back to Zdroj

After reaching the forrest again the path goes down the hill, to the road near the village of Wisloczek. After crossing two creeks I reach the road, and leave the E8 by turning right to Wisloczek.

I spend the night in a cozy cabin in Wisloczek, managed by one of the B&B addresses in the village. My host tells me that in the summer season there is a hikers camp situated near the creek. Hikers can put up their own tent and stay for the night, or rent a place in the big tent that is put up there.

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Barwinek – Lubatowa

e8 kaart barwinek

Stage no. 74
Date Monday 3 June 2013
Distance stage     32,0 km
Distance acum. 2770,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

Today is supposed to be an exciting day: it is my First Polish stage in the E8, and there is no formal E8-section from where I am now in the next 21 kilometers. There is a local hiking trail though, that leads the way to the E8-signs. I wake up at 4.00, just before a huge rain shower starts outside. I leave the B&B at 5.00am.

It still drizzles a bit when I walk back to the main road. I go left to Barwinek, and after some searching for a sign I go right (the first road after the bus stop). I follow the green local signs to the small village of Zyndranowa, and I continue my way up the hill. Everything in the woods is soaken wet, including my shoes. It has started to rain again, so the prospects for today are not very promessing. Going up the slope of the Czerwony Horka hill is comfortable, it’s not steep. I continue my way to the next hill, the Ostra, which is getting more steep and slippery. After passing the top the path goes downhill to the small river and follows this to the village of Stasiane. There is small, bare, camping location along the road, but it is completely fludded. No, there are no campers. I continue along the main road, still following the green signs. I pass a regular camping site, where even some tents and caravans are located, before I cross the very busy road between Barwinek and Dukla. On the other side of the road there is a clear sign that indicates the path to continue up the hill. Without too much signs I follow some tracks up the hill, crossing some trees, and some open fields. I end up in the forrest of the Dziurcz hill, and consequently the Czertez hill. On some steep parts of the hills it is extremely slippery and I end up with many mud stains on my raincoat to proove it. The trail up on this ridge is very clear, well maintained and the signs are very good. However, due to the trees and bushes I am not able to look any further ahead than some 50 meters. This makes it a bit tiresome to walk, and my pace goes down automatically.  After a long while the signs indicate to go down the hill on the right hand side, which turns out to be a very steep slope, covered with chopped trees and branches. After this section the green signs join the red signs that indicate the E8-Trail again. I follow these to the little church in the woods at Pustelnia sw Jana. I arrive there at 12.10, I have some chcolate bars for lunch and I try to get my socks dry, now that it has stopped raining.

trying to get dry feet

trying to get dry feet

I follow the red signs down the hill, but while crossing an open field I loose sight of them, and I decide to continue down the hill straight on, down to the valley, which is some 150 meters below me. I arrive near the main road between Barwinek and Dukla again, the red signs join me 50 meters later on, and I follow them consequently to the east, up the hill to the top of the Cergowa. The first part of the climb is extremely slippery (almost: risky) due to the rain that has been pooring down during the past few days, and the clay soil on that part of the hill. The rest of the climb is not steep, and it is easy to maintain a steady pace. At the top of the Cergowa hill there is no visibilty due to the surrounding trees and the low hanging clouds. In the next few minutes down the hill the path passes some panoramic points that should give some nice views on bright days. The decent gets steep, still following excellent signs, but due to the forrest soil the path is not slippery. At the foot of the hill, where the soil is drenched with clay again the situation is very different; even the flat sections in the forrest are very slippery, and it is inevitable to get dirty, while walking, slipping, falling, etc. I meet a local guy in the forrest who’s looking for mushrooms and he assures me that I go in the right direction. After leaving the forrest I arrive on the main road, which I follow through the sunny fields, to the village of Lubatowa.

Sunny Poland

Sunny Poland

I decide not to continue for today, as there are dark clouds building up on the horizon.

This trip was very succesfull. Even though the circumstances were difficult I have been able to cover very good daily distances, the signs and paths in Poland are well maintained and the surroundings are more open than in the eastern part of Slovakia. I look forward to the next trip already.

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Ohla Hora – Barwinek (P)

e8 kaart olha hora

Stage no. 73
Date Sunday 2 June 2013
Distance stage     44,5 km
Distance acum. 2738,5 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

During the night it has continued to rain for while. Later on I can see stars between the overcast against the dark sky.

I get up at 3.45 and I leave the cabin at 4.15. My legs are stiff, and my shoes are still wet. After a few minutes I pass the top of the Ohla Hora hill, and I start my decent to Kurimka. I cross the creek and I arrive in the very small village. I follow the signs and go right on the very small main road that crosses this valley. After some 15 minutes a sign shows that I have to go left, up through the fields and trees to the Makovica hill. The ascent is not as steep as it looks on the map, and the path and the signs are well maintained. On top of the Makovica hill there is a covered picknick location, without any activity on this early Sunday morning. I follow the ridge to the southeast. On the top of the Cierna Hora hill there is a huge watchtower and a small refuge (not locked). The weather is a bit foggy, so I do not have to be tempted to climb the tower. I would not have done so, due to the safety of being alone on the way (the construction of the tower looks very robust, though). On the last hill of this ridge there is a nice view to the southwest, after which the decent to the city of Svidnik is uncomplicated and easy.

5795 olha hora

In Svidnik I buy food & beverage in a small shop along the Trail which I use for breakfast. At 9.45 I continue my hike, and after passing the war monument (it has a lot of resemblance with the Slavin monument in Bratislava) I go uphill through the fields. The last part of the climb is along an easy road, and consequently down the hill to the village of Nizna Jedlova. Following the signs I pass the village, and go right after the bus stop. The next two kilometers turn out to be very anoying: there are many signs but the path is unclear, or just covered with bushes, or mud. I rely heavily on my compass to guide me in the direction of the next village, Kapisova, and it leads me correctly over the wide fields that need to be crossed. Around noon I have a short lunchbreak in Kapisova and I continue by following the E8-signs along the main road northbound. During the next 7 kilometers I pass several ancient Russian tanks from the 2nd World War, left after the battles on the Dukla Pass, on the border between Slovakia and Poland. In the (tiny) village of Vysna Pizana I leave the road and follow the signs across the fields and woods to another small village, Medvedie. I continue eastbound, the final Slovakian kilometers have come! In the forrest between Medvedie and the last Slovakian village of Vysny Komarnik, I loose the signs and find out that I am going in the wrong direction by the time I am close to the Polish border. I decide to continue my way northbound and after 10 minutes I arrive on top of the ridge, which is for many kilometers the border between Slovakia and Poland. Along the border the E3 finds its way, and I follow these signs eastbound towards the Dukla Pass, where the main road crosses the border. This point is also the start/finish of the Slovakian section of the E8.

last E8-sign in Slovakia

last E8-sign in Slovakia

I arrive at the border at 17.00, and again no customs officer is interested, or even present, when I pass another border on my hike along the E8. I loose some time to find a smart way to go cross country to the village of Zyndranowa, and I end up walking along the main road to the Polish village of Barwinek. Following the blue signs (no E-route) I arrive at a B&B in the first street on the left from the Dukla Pass, some 10 minutes hike into Poland. The hosts speak German very well. I am happy that this day was so succesfull, and that it finishes with a nice, hot shower.

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Hervartov – Olha Hora

e8 kaart hervartov

Stage no. 72
Date Saturday 1 June 2013
Distance stage     38,0 km
Distance acum. 2694,0 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

After travelling through the Czech Republic to catch the famous night bus eastbound in Brno,  I arrive in the early morning in Hervartov, for three days of hiking pleasure along the E8.

Hervartov has not changed in the past 52 weeks. I take the inevitable picture of the wooden church and follow the road down the valley, and later uphill to the village of  Mihalov. The views to Hervartov in the south, behind me, are nice. On the other side of the hill, descending to Bardejov, the E8-signs stop where the path enters the regular road. I follow, according to the map, the regular road downhill to the city, and just at the beginning of the residential area of Bardejov the signs apear again. I pass a small weekmarket (mainly vegetables and fruits) and the famous, Unesco-awarded, ancient city centre. It is still early on the Saturday morning and I take some inevitable pictures of the, empty, square.

Ancient Central Square in Bardejov

Ancient Central Square in Bardejov

I continue northbound, after leaving the city through fields and trees to Bardejovske Kupele. It’s a small village full of various types of spa’s; some operational, some closed and worndown for many years. By then I have already soaken wet shoes due to the wet grass and bushes along the way. After leaving the village the ascent of the Magura Hill starts; in the beginning it’s easy, but after passing the Sedlo Ceresna Pass it gets much steeper. The condition of the path is not comfortable; the soil is slippery due to the rain and there are many plants and bushes that cover part of the path, due to backlogged maintenance. By the time I arrive at the top of the hill I am convinced that this is a complete useless waste of time and energy; there is no view at all from any part of the hill including the top, the path is uncomfortable to walk, and it leads to the next village of Zborov, where you can get a lot of easier by following the regular road from Bardejov. After the descent from the Magura Hill the path does use the regular road for some kilometers to get finally to Zborov, anyway. After crossing the village the Trail leads out of Zborov through the gipsy-quarter. There are no signs to be found in this part of town, but with the help of the friendly people I find a red arrow on the last Telephone stand at the end of the street. I go left up the hill where I have to walk another 15 minutes to find the next sign, which is not comfortable.

view on Zborov

view on Zborov

I continue my way to the village of Andrejova, in the final section crossing a huge field (no signs) with very wet vegetation. I try to find a place to stay for the night in Andrejova, but without succes. I continue my way up the hill, following the signs along the regular road. After 15 minutes or so the signs show to go right, straight up the hill through the fields. After a few minutes the path starts to cross a very dense forrest with very low hanging branches from the trees. I can not walk straight up all the time, and due to the high frequency of the trees there is hardly any daylight popping through the leaves, although it’s only 5.00pm or so. All of a sudden, with a blow, a huge downpour starts which creates an incredible noise from the leaves in the trees. Nevertheless, they prevent me from getting wet at all! Higher up the hill, still being able to follow the signs the forrest is less dense and I get my share of the rain. At some point the forrest road leads up the hill comfortably, but I realize that I have lost the signs again. I decide to walk straight east with my compass to arrive at the ridge of the hills where I should be able to pick up the Trail again. After some slipping and sliding, it is still raining cats and dogs, I arrive at the ridge, and after less than a minute the white-red-white signs pop up again, coming from the right (south, different from the drawning on the map!) and joining me on the ridge, southeast bound. The Trail follows the ridge, uneventfull, no views, and the rain keeps pooring down. At the foot of the Olha Hora hill, which is the first open section that you pass on the ridge, I seek shelter in a small hunters cabin; it’s small but dry. I decide to stay there for the night, not being motivated to walk any further through the pooring rain.

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